A confident tale that deftly merges dense religious fantasy with unvarnished teen sensuality.

RISE OF THE DEMON INFERNO

Teens become embroiled in a demonic war in this fantasy debut.

African American single mom Shanice Carter has just moved her family from Philadelphia to Roshaton, South Carolina. The housing market collapse ruined her real estate career, but her mother, Johnetta, has invited Shanice and her three teens to live on her spacious property. The teens, Shana, Luke, and Matt (who is adopted), make an eye-catching trio as they begin high school. Luke, the oldest, is a dark-skinned Casanova who’s nevertheless “a devout Christian.” He potentially meets his match in Clara Mae Connelly, a religious sophomore who agrees to show the Carters around the school. In the hallways, a bullying incident brings them face to face with Laraii and Carii, attractive siblings who rule the school. Luke is immediately drawn to Laraii’s icy blue eyes and domineering nature. But she’s of demonic descent and has most of the school and town under her control. Thankfully, a counterforce exists in Naya, an ancient soul reincarnated in the body of a 17-year-old girl. Naya is aided in her battle by two elementally powered demon hybrids, Ana and Carlo. Unbeknown to Luke, his soul is connected to Naya’s in a surprising manner. But first the Carters must survive a supernatural war that’s been brewing since humanity’s beginning. Mayo’s series opener aims for a broad teen audience with mature takes on sex and religion. The dialogue, which is sometimes coarse, works best with simple innuendo. Luke, for example, tells Naya while she’s driving: “You real cool when you wanna be. ’Specially the way you workin’ that stick shift.” Readers may need patience during lengthy worldbuilding chapters that flash back to fallen angel Lucifer and set up the present-day conflict. But the author rounds out the characters in thrilling ways, including Matt’s telekinetic power, which leads to gripping action scenes (“Carii felt the pressure increasing, then an invisible hand...draped itself over his skull”). Horror fans will love the gore-filled ritual in the woods reminiscent of the 1980s “Satanic Panic” phenomenon. By the end, the cast and Mayo’s fans should be ready for anything in the sequel.

A confident tale that deftly merges dense religious fantasy with unvarnished teen sensuality.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 701

Publisher: Taevo Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2022

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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